FOREIGN Secretary Boris Johnson accused Russian President Vladimir Putin today of personally ordering the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter.
Mr Johnson further ratcheted up tensions by claiming that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Mr Putin himself ordered the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in a restaurant in Salisbury.
However, Mr Johnson did not offer any evidence for his claim — in the same way that Prime Minister Theresa May did not when she alleged that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind the poisoning.
The Russian government has denied being involved in the poisoning of Mr Skripal and his daughter, and Westminster has yet to present any evidence that would back up its claims.
Moscow has repeatedly requested that Britain send it samples of the suspected nerve agent for testing.
Russia’s ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko today quoted Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying that Westminster’s “failure to co-operate” on the Skripal case was a “major violation of the chemical weapons convention.”
Mr Lavrov said: “Russia is ready to co-operate in line with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons convention if [Britain] gets round to — and deigns to — fulfilling its international legal obligations in line with the [convention]."
Vil Marzayanov, a Russian chemist who helped develop the “Novichok” class of chemical weapons and who defected to the United States, said today that several countries are capable of creating the poison.
Mr Marzayanov, speaking from his home in the US, told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper that he had even published the formula for the chemical in a book in 2008.
Meanwhile British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who had dinner with the wife of a former Putin minister after she gave the Tories £30,000, told reporters yesterday that Russia should “go away and shut up.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged the government to take a “calm, measured” approach, warning against the drift towards a “new cold war” with Russia.
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